By any standard the opening ceremony for the China Olympics were brilliant, amazing, and unprecedented. But at what real cost. The Chinese government has long been known to use it's massive population as a seemingly expendable natural resource. As much as we were dazzled, what reaction should we have to find out about the harsh conditions the performers endured. An article at ESPN.com gives a hint of what the performers went through.
The performers stayed in army barracks outside the city and were not allowed to leave. Performers were injured, fainted from heatstroke and some were forced to use adult diapers so breaks weren't necessary. The ceremony's director wanted the world to know of the suffering and sacrifice of the nearly 15,000 members of the cast and crew. He said "Only the North Koreans could have done better." I'm not sure how he meant this statement.
The participants of the synchronized tai-chi routine rehearsed an average of 16 hours a day, every day, for three months. A young 26-year-old dancer fell from a 10-foot stage and may be permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Despite the sacrifices, the student performers were grateful for the opportunity to participate in the historic event and view it as an honor.
As a comparison, the director pointed out that in the West frequent coffee breaks were necessary and they could only work 4 and a half days per week, with no overtime. I don't think he was happy with that situation either.